Michael Reisman was born and raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where he spent a lot of time daydreaming in the nearby woods. He can juggle and use chopsticks with either hand, but unlike the characters in his books Simon Bloom the Gravity Keeper and Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect, he cannot control the universe. Michael has worked in the movie/TV industry and currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
If you are interested in having Michael make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
Author Appearance Q&A with Michael Reisman:
Penguin: What is a typical appearance like with you? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?
Michael Reisman: Typically, I begin with a brief background about myself (e.g. my work with Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and DreamWorks Animation). Then I delve into science, talking about and demonstrating why I find it fun. Next I discuss the writing and publishing process, and lastly (before Q&A), I read an excerpt of my book. I tend to be fairly energetic in my speaking while peppering my message with humor. I've followed the same basic pattern with an audience of 200 kids, a gathering of 60 or so librarians, and a handful of attitude-challenged youths in a foster home. The biggest difference, honestly, is the type of jokes I use. Oh, and I feel much sillier when I'm juggling for adults (but I still do it).
Penguin: What makes your author appearances unique?
Michael Reisman: Did I mention the juggling? Okay, well, aside from that, a portion of my visits is dedicated to discussing science. I'm far from a scientist (I double-majored in English and Psychology in college), but I've found many intriguing and potentially fun aspects about science that I like to share with my audience. I try to show my audience why science need not be drudgery or incomprehensible through examples of scientific principles. Another unique aspect is my dressing as the Narrator of my book (donning fake eyeglasses and a bathrobe over my clothes) while reading an excerpt (complete with admittedly-bad British accent), which tends to amuse. But, really, it's the juggling.
Penguin: Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
Michael Reisman: I love doing appearances for adults because (I think) they appreciate my...oh, let's call it goofiness…all the more. I focus my discussion on the writing/ publishing process and how to reach young minds, but science gets its time in the spotlight, too. Frankly, people of any age who aren't science-lovers tend to dislike or even fear the subject because it can be confusing and dull. But it's hard to be intimidated by science a la Reismanas in my books, I try to add an irreverent and easily-digestible flair to my presentation of the subject. Also, with adults I can make references to pop culture from years ago...
Penguin: What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?
Michael Reisman: All I need is a room that'll fit everyone and, if possible, a podium or small table on which to place my bag o' tricks. If there's carpeting, I can demonstrate friction in a fun way, but that's not necessary. In general, I think the biggest thing a school or library can do in preparation for an appearance is to get the groupbe they 20 or 200 in numberaware of my books. I think it's best if the kids have read at least part of the first book so they feel a stronger connection to my material and me.
Penguin: Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
Michael Reisman: Yes. Fortunately, my neighbors are willing to take care of my fish and plant while I'm away, so I'm happy to travel. (With The Octopus Effect coming out, I'd love to bring my fish along as part of my presentation...alas, they are just too fussy.)
Penguin: Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?
Michael Reisman: I have done that before and I'm fine with it. As far as I'm concerned, the more the merrier...and by schools and libraries joining forces, they're able to cut down on their individual costs, so I think that's great.
Penguin: What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?
Michael Reisman: I hope my visits underline a theme of my books: knowledge is power. Science and learning in general need not be overwhelming or uncoolthey can be fun (or, at the very least, worthwhile). I also hope those who are interested in writing or any of the arts will feel encouraged and empowered, yet also have a more realistic outlook on what they must do for that pursuit.
Penguin: What was your favorite appearance experience?
Michael Reisman: When my first book came out and I began doing appearances, I was happy if they just pronounced my name right. (Almost nobody does.) But of my many great experiences with school and library visits, I think my favorite was when one girl raised her hand and made a comment relating to Newton's First Law of Motion (it deals with inertia). Later, when I was signing her book, I asked her if she had studied physics and she replied, "No, I just read your book." I was delighted: a 6th grader was able to discuss inertiasomething I didn't know about until 12th gradein her own words based solely on having read what I wrote! I promptly asked her to sign on as my science consultant for future books. (Her fee was too high, however, so I'm sticking with my current science-guy.)
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